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Shaping the Future We Want to See: A Note From Shira Rockowitz and Kristin Feeley

12/06/2024

This summer we're pulling back the curtain on Sundance Labs by sharing letters from the program heads on the Institute's vital work to support artists. Join us in supporting that mission by donating to Sundance now.

By Shira Rockowitz and Kristin Feeley

Things don't work quite the way they used to in the film industry. Is this an obvious truth? A wild understatement? An urgent call to action? The answer is that it's actually all of the above.

The Survive til 25 refrain has become ubiquitous in our field. During this tumultuous time, we could throw up our hands and accept the false binary that change is scary. Or we could do something else, something powerful.

With so much disruption in the indie film space, it is more important than ever to foster the next generation of entrepreneurial, independent producers. Each of them capable of navigating a complex, ever-changing landscape to successfully shepherd films from the earliest stage of development, to production, post-production, and distribution.

This year, the annual Documentary Producers Lab and Feature Film Producers Lab are both convening for the first time at Ucross in Wyoming. We look forward to gathering in a new location that offers a true residency experience and drawing inspiration from nature, amidst 20,000 acres at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

As we find ourselves in uncharted territory, both geographically and creatively, we're embracing the idea of change because the heart of the Documentary and Feature Film Producers Labs - the thoughtful exchange and community built between fellows and advisors - remains the same. The labs mark the start of a year-long fellowship during which five emerging fiction producers and five emerging nonfiction producers will receive bespoke support, including year-round mentorship from a dedicated mentor, film industry networking opportunities, and professional development and project advancement strategy workshops.

Starting at the labs, the fellows will have an opportunity to refine their leadership skills, hone their creative instincts, cultivate a sense of community, and devise new strategies to advance their projects and connect with audiences, while laying the groundwork for building sustainable careers.

We are galvanized by the work taking place across the field to uplift and increase protections for producers. These include Producers United, The Documentary Producers Alliance, The Producers Union, Dear Producer, the PGA, Color Congress, grassroots organizations, and our very own Producers Lab alumni network, which is 160 producers strong. By bolstering emerging independent producers during this particularly vulnerable time in their career, and helping them advance their projects while developing a resilient, innovation-oriented mindset, the Sundance Producers Labs play a distinct, vital role in our ecosystem.

We are inspired by the creative possibilities this year's projects represent and the determination and ingenuity of the producers behind them. With a dedicated community of advisors and industry partners, we are committed to interrogating the present state of our field and shaping the future we want to see.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman once famously declared, Nobody knows anything. And we agree - with an asterisk. Nobody (singular) knows anything but together, we know a lot.

To learn more about the Sundance Institute Producers Program visit our website.
LINK: https://www.sundance.org/blogs/shaping-the-future-we-want-to-see-a-not...
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